A 10 page review of the trend towards employing CT scans in the diagnosis of appendicitis. The author reviews the literature and summarizes several studies on the subject to conclude that there is no consensus on the efficiency of widespread application of complex radiology in these diagnoses. While most research reports a reduction in negative appendectomy rates, the degree of this reduction is quite variable. Bibliography lists 6 sources.
Abdominal discomfort can be the result of a multitude of pathological conditions. One of the most common of these is appendicitis. Typically appendicitis is diagnosed
on the basis of a patients history, a physical examination, and laboratory data such as white blood counts (Walker, Haun, Clark, McMillin, and Zeren, 2000; Horton, Counter, Florence, and Hart,
2000). Occasionally, radiological imaging is employed in this diagnosis (Walker, Haun, Clark, McMillin, and Zeren, 2000). Walker, Haun, Clark, McMillin, and Zeren (2000) contend that relying solely on
these methodologies can result in the misdiagnosis of twenty percent of patients with appendicitis (Walker, Haun, Clark, McMillin, and Zeren, 2000). Rao, Rhea, Rattner, Venus and Novelline support this
contention with an examination of the medical records for 493 appendectomies performed between 1992 and 1995. Other authors, however, report significantly different misdiagnoses rates. There is, however, an
underlying tendency to look to more elaborate diagnoses methodologies for this condition. One of these technologies is computed tomography (CT) scans. The literature is inconsistent, however, in definitively
identifying CT as necessary or economically feasible alternative for the diagnosis of appendicitis. The value of Computerized Tomography Scans (CT) in diagnosing abdominal
conditions is highly debated. Baker emphasizes that the procedure provides considerably more information on the whole than does more traditional techniques. Abdominal spaces, organs and conduits can each
be more thoroughly explored than would be the case with traditional radiology, for example (Baker). Baker emphasizes that Computerized Tomography:
"enables a detailed delineation of the extent and configuration of expected pathologic features and makes possible the recognition of unsuspected treatable conditions".